Led by a strong start from LeBron James, more quality contributions from Rajon Rondo and stellar defense in the second half propelled the Los Angeles Lakers to a 112-102 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 3, taking a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Both teams came out on fire to start as they traded baskets to keep the score even during the opening minutes. James was in top form, getting an easy drive to the paint and draining a pair of threes, but Houston was able to respond each time.
Anthony Davis started to once again dominate inside, cleaning up a miss for an and-1 opportunity and flushing a perfectly thrown lob from Rajon Rondo. However, Russell Westbrook had an easy time knifing into the paint for layups and the Lakers were down 33-32 after one.
Much like the first quarter, James asserted himself going to the rim and drew a couple of fouls in the process. He also knocked down several tough jump shots over defenders, keeping Los Angeles within striking defense.
The major difference in the game was the turnover battle as the Lakers committed 12 to only three for the Rockets. Houston scored 12 points off Los Angeles’s mistakes and the latter went into the locker room down 64-61.
The half-court offense for the Lakers was a slog as the Rockets did a good job of clogging the paint on any post entries. However, they were able to retake the lead after a couple of James blocks ignited the break, but a timely Eric Gordon three knotted back up at 72.
L.A. and Houston jockeyed back and forth with time winding down in the period as they executed on both ends of the floor. James capped off the quarter with his fourth block of the night, leaving the game tied at 82-82.
Playoff Rondo was in full effect in the fourth as he hit two threes and came up with a steal and lay up to give the purple and gold some breathing room. The defensive rotations were also much sharper, forcing Houston to rush shots as the shot clock was expiring.
Davis and Robert Covington collided going after a defensive rebound and the latter had to exit the game, depriving the Rockets of a quality shooter and defender.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!